Harry received his first detention slip Monday morning at breakfast from Professor McGonagall, the teen barely glancing at it. "Harry, it'll be worse for you if you don't look at the slip and see who you have detention with," said Hermione. "Really, I can't believe you mouthed off to Professor McGonagall."
"It's brilliant. Didn't know you had it in you mate. Never heard you swear before," said Ron joyfully, clapping Harry on the back.
"Don't encourage him Ron," said Hermione. Harry frowned at Hermione but glanced down at the slip before groaning.
Mister Potter you will be serving detention with Argus Filch tonight at 8 PM for mouthing off to me last week. Please be prompt at Filch's office at 8 PM or you will end up being assigned another detention.
"I have detention with Filch tonight," said Harry.
"Bad luck mate. Could be worse though. You could be stuck in detention with Snape."
"Well, it's your own fault Harry for cursing at a professor," said Hermione. "You have to face the consequences at some point."
"Honestly Hermione, you don't have to act like a goody two-shoes all the time," said Ron.
"At least I have my priorities right with studying unlike you Ronald where you slack off and play wizard's chess or talk with Harry about Quidditch all the time," snapped Hermione. "Maybe if you put more effort into your studies, the both of you," here she looked between the boys, "you both might accomplish something useful and get better grades. Not to mention if Harry would stay out of trouble."
"Harry's the best in our year!"
"Harry's only the best in Defense," said Hermione.
"I don't go looking for trouble," said Harry. "Trouble usually finds me."
"Please Harry. If it hadn't been for Ron's stupidity in first year, we would never have run into Fluffy."
"If you hadn't insisted on following us, you wouldn't have gotten caught," said Ron. "Did you ever wonder why you didn't have any friends at all Hermione? It's because you always must be..."
Harry tuned his friends out, not wanting to listen to their bickering at all, a fight which was cut short when Hermione ended up leaving the Gryffindor table in a huff, heading for the doors leading from the Great Hall. This left the boys together at the table, Harry frowning at the spot where Hermione had been before sighing. Sometimes Ron didn't think before speaking though Harry knew his best mate had a point about Hermione following them out of the common room in first year. He scrunched up the slip of paper that Professor McGonagall had given him, let alone that it was with Filch. Still, it could be worse, he knew. He could have detention with Snape of all of people and his Potions professor would likely spend the entire time comparing him to his father. Harry still wasn't sure, three years into his schooling and the wizarding world, what Snape's problem was with him or what his problems had been with his father. Really, how could Dumbledore allow someone like Snape to teach in the first place? All Snape really did was write instructions up on the board and then swoop around like an overgrown bat, terrorizing both himself and poor Neville. He didn't hear the talk around him until Ron tapped him on the shoulder. "Hmm? What is it, Ron?"
"You alright mate? You spaced out there for a bit."
"Yeah...I'm just...I can't believe that I'm banned from Quidditch," said Harry. "I mean, how is it my fault there's some nutter after me," he said. Ron shrugged in response to Harry's statement, not having an answer for his friend.
"Come on, we best get to Divination," said Ron before the teen stuffed another mouthful of food into his mouth and grabbed a bun, not seeing the look of disgust that passed over Harry's face at this action. "Easy A right Harry?"
"Yeah," said Harry, his mind turning over what Filch might possibly make him do in detention tonight and wondering if he should even go or skip it. He could take his invisibility cloak with him and just hide under it during his detention, maybe cast Confundus at the crabby caretaker so he'd be confused about Harry's lack of arrival and then head back to bed or just stroll the grounds. Or should he try his hand at casting the memory charm spell like Lockhart had attempted last year on him and Ron down in the Chamber? The two friends left the Great Hall to make the journey up to the North Tower where they had their divination class with other students from all four houses, one of the only times all four houses had classes together. Yet Harry sometimes wished he had signed up for a different class besides Divination as every class Professor Trelawney kept predicting ways that Harry would die before the end of the year. Nor did his professor seem to know what she was talking about.
Harry found it difficult to get through his classes that day, not yet having the chance to fully process the fact that he could no longer play Quidditch nor attend practices without risking getting in trouble from Professor McGonagall. Not that he could anyway without no longer having a broom but there seemed nothing for him to do to occupy his time. On top of not being able to go attend Hogsmeade visits, Harry found himself bored with his free time. Hermione had told him to study more since Quidditch was no longer taking up his time and this had brokered into an argument about how Hermione didn't understand Quidditch at all because she was a girl to which Hermione replied she didn't see the point of flying around on a broomstick when the Seeker was the only important person on the team and that Harry could invest more time into his studies. Furthermore, she had said that it was Harry's own fault by wanting to play when he had a head injury and there was no one to blame but himself. This had caused some arguing from Ron who had stepped in, but Harry had left the tower and gone to the owlery instead to visit Hedwig, angry at Hermione and refusing to believe he was responsible for his predicament. If anyone was responsible, it was Hermione for pointing out his injury to Wood and Black for escaping in the first place.
The owlery was a large stone tower on the Hogwarts grounds, resting atop a rock some distance from the castle. The tower inside consisted of a large circular room with a floor covered in straw, owl droppings and regurgitated mouse and rat bones while the walls were either covered in windows or small alcoves and roosts built up the ceiling where owls could perch and rest when not delivering letters for students or staff. There was a cold draft due to the open windows which allowed the owls to fly freely in and out of the tower. "Hedwig?" Harry called as he entered the owlery, climbing a small set of stairs to look out a window. Harry was glad he had come alone to the owlery, unaware of the black dog watching him from some distance away as he had traversed the grounds.
It was dark when Harry left the owlery, saying goodbye to Hedwig and promising to come see her again soon. The wind was chillier, nipping at Harry's robes and he wished he'd thought of bringing his winter cloak with him. As he descended the steps of the owlery, Harry wasn't expecting it to be so late and his stomach rumbled, only realizing with a start that he had missed dinner. Outside the owlery, the air seemed even colder and not just because it was evening. Shivering, Harry descended the steps down the small rocky ledge and then began heading back to the castle, hoping there was still time to end up getting some dinner before heading to Filch's detention. Even though it was cold, Harry found himself dragging his feet and slowing his walk, not wanting to go to detention, a detention that Harry felt he did not deserve at all.
As Harry was making his way to the school's doors, Harry saw Hagrid walking across the grounds. "Hagrid," Harry called, relieved that Fang was not with him. He broke into a jog to catch up with the gameskeeper and his first friend and the man who had taken him to get his school supplies back in first year and Hagrid stopped at Harry's shout. The gameskeeper squinted through the darkness to see Harry running towards him, the normally gentle half-giant frowning at the boy.
"Harry, what're you doing out here?! Out on the ground after dark and y'know you aren't allowed! C'mon, back to the castle with ya," said Hagrid as Harry approached with a smile, a smile that faded as Hagrid grabbed the teen's arm and hauled him back to the castle. "Don't know what ‘cha was thinkin' Harry, being out and about when ‘tis not safe fer ya."
"I was just visiting Hedwig," said Harry. "Hagrid, I can be outside on school grounds! Nobody can keep me in the castle!"
"Only in the day," said Hagrid. "Throwing yer life away like that...can't imagine what yer parents would think," he said as he continued walking up to the castle, forcing Harry to jog to avoid being dragged on the ground with Hagrid's huge strides. Harry's face fell as he heard Hagrid question what his parents would think and tried futilely to pull away from Hagrid's grip, but it wasn't easy, him being a teenager and Hagrid being an adult. As they approached the castle doors, they ran into Professor McGonagall and Flich who had informed Minerva that Potter had not come to his detention.
"Hagrid, oh thank goodness," said Minerva. "Where was he?"
"Said he was coming from the owlery Professor," said Hagrid. "Didn't seem keen on coming back to the castle, said none could keep him inside and from wandering the grounds."
"Trying to get out of detention, is he? I reckon that warrants another detention," said Filch.
"Mister Potter...you seem rather obstinate this year," said Professor McGonagall, "and it will not be tolerated. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"There's no rule against students being out on the grounds," said Harry. "Why is it that everything happens to me? It's not my fault there's some nutter that escaped an inescapable prison according to Hermione and more wasn't done to prevent such a thing from happening in the first place! I can't go to Hogsmeade, and I can't play Quidditch. I'm getting detentions for no reason at all..."
"Enough Mister Potter. You now have another detention to be served after this one, again with Mister Filch tomorrow and forty points for arguing with two professors, as well as fifteen for carelessly not following the rules. I hate to say this but I'm beginning to think Severus is correct in that Albus gives you too much freedom," she said, causing Harry's mouth to drop open in shock and then his cheeks to become red in anger. "Now go with Argus and serve your detention Mister Potter," she said. "Hagrid thank you for finding the boy. You can go back to your hut now."
"Thanks P'fessor," said Hagrid, letting go of Harry and then turning without another word to head home and feed Fang.
"Go on Mister Potter," said McGonagall, shooing Harry out of her sight and Filch grinned, turning and heading back into the castle.
"Shame Dumbledore let go of all the old punishments. You deserve to be lashed boy or hung up in chains," said Filch. "Gods, I miss the screaming of the little troublemakers," he said. "Maybe those Weasley twins would straighten out if they were given a few dozen lashes," he said.
"There's nothing wrong with the Weasley twins. You're just a sour old grouch!"
"They're nasty little urchins who always play pranks instead of focusing on their studies," said Filch. "Sneaking around where they don't belong and making messes for me to clean up with their antics along with the rest of the school. Rather reminiscent of your father and his nasty gang," said Filch. "But you've apparently picked up that trait from your father haven't you Potter? Strutting around the school, getting into mischief and being places where you don't belong...one of these days you'll meet a sticky end," spoke the cranky caretaker as he marched the boy along through the halls, bony hand wrapped around Harry's wrist like a vice from which the teen couldn't escape.
Harry's anger only grew as Filch, a man possibly hated more than Snape by the school, spoke wrongly of both the twins who had stuck up for him in both his first and second years, even coming with Ron to free him from the Dursleys last summer after the fiasco with Dobby, but also of his father. Like Snape, Filch seemed to believe that his father was a horrible man and Harry knew that wasn't true. His father had been a chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team and what was wrong with a few pranks against Slytherins? They likely deserved what they got and the twins...their pranks never hurt anyone to Harry's knowledge.
Harry found himself being led to a room he had never been before in his life, being taken down to the dungeons and through them until they got to a long corridor. They then stopped halfway at a doorway and Filch opened it, pushing the teen inside. "Boy, you'll be washing, drying, folding and sorting laundry today according to year and house," said Filch, heading to a chair and sitting down. "Pipsy!"
"What cans Pipsy be doing for Master Caretaker?" A house elf with green skin, a pointed nose with long bat-like ears and purple eyes walked over, wearing a tea rag with the Hogwarts crest emblazoned on its chest.
"Potter's helping with laundry but don't let him boss you nor your fellow house elves around. He can do his own work."
"Yes, Master Caretaker. Pipsy be telling the other house elves, she does," said Pipsy as she bowed and then hurried to tell the four other house elves who Harry saw were now scattered around the laundry room. They were all wearing tea towels or pillowcases with the Hogwarts crest emblazoned on the front and looked more presentable than when he had seen Dobby the previous year.
"Get to work Potter and you can do this without magic," snapped Filch. "A real kick in the backside or the cane, that's what you need Potter in order to straighten out," said Filch to himself. Harry frowned at the caretaker and then looked around him before asking a question.
"How am I supposed to wash clothes without any water?"
"Oh, I'm sorry Potter. Does the Boy-Who-Lived not know how to wash clothing without magic?" Harry's face turned pink in embarrassment and anger, the third-year Gryffindor feeling both emotions strongly. "Pipsy, take Potter to the lake and pop him back here to fetch water," said Filch. Pipsy came with a couple of buckets and then the elf grabbed Harry's shirt and popped him out of the castle. Harry, who had never traveled by house elf apparition before he found himself at the Black Lake.
"Pipsy? Can you make some light so I can see?"
"Yes Master Potter," said Pipsy as she snapped her fingers and light orbs appeared around her. Harry thanked her and set the buckets on the ground near the water's edge before asking a question. "Do you know Dobby?"
"Pipsy knows of Dobby yes Master Potter. Dobby be working for the Malfoys with Pipsy's brother until last year," said Pipsy. "Dobby was always a strange elf," said Pipsy. "Master Potter best be getting that water so you can continue your detention and not anger Mistress Cat," said Pipsy. With a scowl, Harry dipped the first bucket into the lake, filling it up and then the second one. Once he had the buckets filled up, Pipsy popped him back into the laundry room and Harry was told to pour the water into a large cauldron and then get a fire started to heat up the water. Harry had never started a fire before in his life, but he knew the general idea of it and so went to fetch some wood and kindling to stack beneath the pot which hung within a large fireplace. Filch remained where he was, at the table and watching Potter to make sure he didn't try to sneak off.
Once the water was heating up, lye soap was poured into the cauldron for the purposes of cleaning the clothing and then he had to put the dirty laundry in the cauldron, stirring it with a big spoon. This turned out to be tough work and took him well past curfew to get everything done so that by the time he was done, Harry had to be escorted back to the Gryffindor common room by Filch. After getting into the common room, he made his way straight for the third-year boy's dormitory where he immediately fell onto his bed, pulling his curtains around him and ignoring Ron when he tried to talk to him and ask how his detention was. Anger and humiliation boiled within him as he thought of the upcoming Hogsmeade trip and how it seemed like his professors were worse to him than the previous two years he'd been at school. At least last year they hadn't banned him from Quidditch or even walking around the school or grounds by himself, not even when it had been thought by the students at least that he was the Heir of Slytherin. Damn Black.
Time passed within the school and as the second Hogsmeade trip came up before the Christmas Holidays were to start, Harry found he couldn't seem to escape either his professors' watchful eyes nor the excited chatter and plans of his friends and peers. Even Hermione and Ron were talking about going to Hogsmeade and how they would make sure to bring Harry candy from Honeydukes and while he appreciated the gesture it was nothing like being there and able to tour the village itself which, from what Hermione said, was the only wizarding village in Great Britain but Harry didn't know if that were true or not. Hermione did like to pretend books the secondary almighty authority in her life, next to the professors' being right about everything. Sometimes, her spouting off random tidbits from books she had read or trying to get him and Ron to study all the time was annoying. Sometimes it seemed Hermione didn't understand the concept of relaxing and having fun, her nose always in a book and oblivious to the world around her.
Snow had fallen upon the grounds of Hogwarts and the village of Hogsmeade on the morning of the second trip to the wizarding village. The term was nearly over but for now, on this cold December morning, the students were eager to grace the village of Hogsmeade and its shops with their patronage. Looking out of the clear dial atop the Clock Tower, Harry watched as students walked through the courtyard to go to Hogsmeade, those that had their permission slips signed by their parents or guardians. From his vantage point, he couldn't see the gates of Hogwarts nor Filch who Hermione had said was checking permission slips and he wished that he hadn't tried asking Professor McGonagall and Minister Fudge about going to Hogsmeade, both having refused to sign his form based on not being his guardian and it being safer for him with Black on the loose. Harry, who was not used to being told no at Hogwarts and not thinking of his own safety in the least, decided to do something rather foolish and use his invisibility cloak to sneak into Hogsmeade anyway. Why should he be the only third year not allowed to attend Hogsmeade?
Not thinking of the fact that his boots would make tracks within the snow, Harry headed across the courtyard, not seeing Fred and George tossing snowballs on the other side of the courtyard. The next thing he felt was being grabbed under both arms and dragged through the courtyard. "Clever Harry," said Fred.
"But not clever enough," said George.
"Guys come on. I'm trying to get to Hogsmeade!"
"We know. We'll show you a quicker way."
"Ow," said Harry as he was accidentally bumped into a wall. "Come on guys..."
"Now Harry, join the big boys," said Fred, pulling off Harry's cloak. Harry lifted his head, staring at the twins in anger.
"What are y..."
"Shhhhhhh." Harry was then handed a blank piece of parchment and glanced down at it.
"What's this rubbish?"
Fred snorted. "What's this rubbish he says? That there Harry is the secret to our success. It's a wretch giving it up, but we've decided your needs are greater than ours. George, if you will."
As Harry stared, George raised his wand and tapped the folded parchment. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." Harry's eyes were drawn to the map as writing began to appear on it and he read it out loud questioningly.
"‘Misters Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs are proud to present the Marauder's Map,'" he said.
"We owe them so much," said Fred.
Harry opened it and surprise appeared on his face as he saw a map of the school as he opened the folded piece of parchment up. "This is Hogwarts! Is that really..."
"In his study."
"Does that a lot."
"So, you mean this map shows..."
"Where they are."
"What they're doing."
"Of every day."
"Brilliant! Where'd you get it?"
"Nicked it from Filch's office of course. First year."
After getting information on the best passage to use to get into Hogsmeade as well as how to conceal the map from anyone else and an advisement not to tell anyone about the map or where he got it, not even to Ron and Hermione, Harry was left in the Clocktower as the twins then made their way to Filch to show him their permission slips to go to Hogsmeade. Reaching the statue of the one-eyed witch on the third floor within the Gunhilda of Gorsemoor Corridor, Harry looked down at the map and saw him standing by it with a speech bubble above his name. Tapping his wand against the witch's hump, he whispered the password. "Dissendium," he said and watched as the hump on the witch's back moved aside, revealing a slide. Without thinking, Harry climbed up and then slid down as the hump closed behind him, plunging him into darkness until he landed in a tunnel. "Lumos," Harry said, holding his wand aloft so he could see and then speaking the password to close the Marauders Map which was then stuffed into a pocket of his pants. He then proceeded to begin walking down what seemed a straight path.
Emerging into a cellar after an hour of walking, Harry found himself surrounded by shelves and boxes. It was cooler here, being underground, though warmer than the tunnel he had emerged from. Walking over to one of the boxes, Harry saw the word Honeydukes written across the side and a smile appeared on his face. He had done it! Both the map and the twins had pulled through for him and, Harry had to admit, he had his doubts about the map and the twins...what if they had been pulling a prank on him?
Harry found he couldn't resist going to one of the open boxes and pulling out a chocolate frog which was place in the pocket of his pants, nor could he resist rooting through the boxes to get treats he might otherwise not get from his friends when they came back, glad in that moment for Dudley's castoffs that were too big on him, even as a third year. He then threw his cloak over his head as he heard someone coming down the stairs, a voice shouting to fetch a box of peppermint imps and a box of sugar quills. Moving to the side, he watched as the man descended to the cell and moved about, Harry taking the chance to sneak past him and ascend the steps, accidentally knocking over a box in his haste as he escaped through the slightly ajar door. The excited sound of students filled him as he emerged, having to pick his way through the crowd so he wouldn't be detected. Unfortunately, Harry had not counted on the map not showing Hogsmeade nor on the fact that Hogwarts staff members tended to patrol the grounds when students ventured into the village on weekends. As he made his way outside, he snatched a lollipop from Neville who was standing by the door, the cold hitting him as he made his way outside, the bell jingling over the shop as he opened the door.
A light snow was falling over Hogsmeade, bringing cold wind and a chill of frosty air to Harry's lungs as he breathed. The adolescent couldn't help shivering, wishing he'd thought to bring a winter cloak with him, even if they were getting smaller as he grew, the wind cutting into his skin. Snow crunched underfoot as he made his way through the crowds, savoring the winter chill and light snowfall. This was what Christmas was about, bitter cold and snow coating everything wherever one looked, breath frosting in the air and curling up next to a warm fire at the end of the day with a cup of cocoa. Perhaps when he got back to the castle...he would just need to decide what lie he could come up with to pretend that he'd been in the school and not here in Hogsmeade. For now, Harry felt smug at having pulled one over on the professors thanks to the help of the twins and the map he now possessed.
Harry felt free for the first time since being banned from the Quidditch team. Granted, nothing could beat flying in Harry's mind, but it was a chance to be out of the castle and get to experience something that others in his year got to experience because they weren't being hunted by an escaped convict. The thing was, Harry didn't know why he was being hunted either as nobody had, as usual, bothered to inform him. They just expected him to be a good boy and remain in the castle, missing out on the adventures of Hogsmeade. Which was just not fair to him at all. Why was it that since arriving at Hogwarts two years ago, his life was in danger all the time?
Much as he wanted to see Hermione and Ron, he couldn't trust Hermione not to report him to Professor McGonagall or another professor. Ron would think it was a great joke, but Harry knew that if Ron discovered that the twins had given Harry a map of the castle, his jealousy would come through and there would be an argument and that was something that Harry didn't want to deal with. His friend seemed to get jealous easily when it came to Harry having things that Ron didn't, like this map, and Harry would have given anything to get his parents back. Harry often envied Ron for having parents and a loving family as, for many years as a child, he had tried to get the love of his aunt and uncle until he had come to realize that nothing, he did would ever get them to love him which had been when he'd been around nine years old. He shook his head to will his negative thoughts away. He hadn't come to Hogsmeade to wallow in self-pity but to have fun and enjoy himself, even if he had to be underneath his cloak.
As the day progressed, Harry found he didn't want to return to the castle nor the ‘safety' of its walls. How safe is Hogwarts for me anyway? It was a thought that he couldn't stop entering his mind, a thought that he had considered during his second summer when he'd gotten no letters from his friends and a thought that had come back this previous summer as well. Yet, it was something he did not bring up with his friends or professors as Ron would say he was crazy and Hermione would object outright, saying it was his own fault for ‘looking for trouble' and that Hogwarts was the safest place in Britain for the magical population of the British Isles, refusing to believe there was any place safer or even better as far as wizarding schools went. Come to think of it, Harry didn't know if there were any other wizarding schools, nor how he would possibly be able to afford to go to another school. He wasn't even sure how much money he had in his vault. No, such a thought was better left unspoken to anyone as he doubted anyone would understand at all...and his professors certainly weren't of any help.
Although he was unable to remove his invisibility cloak for fear of being spotted by other students, he could hear their excited chatter as well as the crunch of snow underneath several dozen feet. He wished he could see the excitement for himself, but he didn't know where Ron and Hermione were and had no desire to run into them, nor anyone else he knew and that was not a lot truthfully. Hermione would just run and tell a teacher while Ron would be upset about Harry getting a special map from the twins and complain about how he should have gotten the map because he was the twins' younger brother. Harry didn't want to deal with such negative, wondering why he was friends with Ron at times with the other boy's jealousy towards Harry's fame, fame which Harry didn't deserve and fame that Harry didn't want. Didn't Ron understand that Harry would have given anything to have his parents back, to be a normal child and not have his life in danger every year?
Just once, can't I have a normal year where I can just be Harry and not the Boy-Who-Lived? Ron doesn't realize how lucky he is to have parents and siblings who love him, to have a loving family that doesn't abuse him or treat him like dirt all the time. I can't imagine Ron ever going without food with how much Mrs. Weasley seven course helpings it seems for her family. And Hermione...I don't think she would understand either what I go through at the Dursleys. She doesn't seem to have ever had to endure abuse either by her parents, though she doesn't talk of them much.
Feeling sorry for himself was not a normal occurrence for Harry though there were times that even though he was in a world of magic, he felt alone. He should be used to it from growing up with Dudley who scared away anyone who wished to be friends with him, be used to it from Aunt Petunia and Uncle Dursley never showing him any love at all nor attention. No matter what he did, it was never enough for the Dursleys and in the end, he had stopped trying to please them. Even when he had realized that good grades wouldn't amount to anything with his family, even when he had turned to getting lower marks to please his relatives, they did not care for even that. Then he had come to Hogwarts in his first year and made friends with Ron, the first boy who was nice to him, even if he had been uncomfortable with Ron's wanting to immediately see his scar, as if to confirm it was really the Boy-Who-Lived. What would have happened, Harry wondered, if he were not the Boy-Who-Lived? Would Ron have decided not to become his friend? Harry wanted to believe Ron would have, but Ron had pretty much hinted if he had been sorted into Slytherin then they wouldn't have been friends and that Slytherin was even worse than Hufflepuff.
Severus was not pleased to be out within the cold winter weather of Hogsmeade, patrolling the village grounds but Minerva and Filius were meeting with Cornelius Fudge in the Three Broomsticks to discuss Black's situation and the fact that the hot-headed former Gryffindor had not been caught yet by either the Dementors nor Ministry officials. It really bespoke of the incompetence of the Minster in Snape's opinion. Severus had no love for the previous minster of magic nor the Ministry itself with being a former Death Eater and the previous minister wanting to throw him and all other Death Eaters into Azkaban. It had only been Dumbledore speaking up for him that had prevented him from being sentenced to a lifetime in Azkaban. If he came across Black, then Black wouldn't need to worry about the dementors or Azkaban as Snape would kill the childish man himself and there was no doubt in Severus's mind that Black was still the same child he had been despite his thirteen years in Azkaban. Though just how Black had gotten out of Azkaban was a mystery even to the cunning potioneer.
Pulling his winter cloak tighter about himself, Severus cast his gaze once more upon the students milling about Hogsmeade, making their way into various shops, or chatting with each other outside. Some even went into the Three Broomsticks, an inn proprietor by Madam Rosmerta to sit in comfort in the warm building and drink Butterbeer and eat warm soup or sandwiches for lunch. Severus relished in the shock and horror on some of the third-years as they realized that he along with other professors patrolled the village during the weekends, this never being so paramount as this year with Dementors guarding the school and students from the likes of Black for the Patronus charm was not normally taught at Hogwarts, there being no need to learn it by the general student body. Granted, Severus hated teaching and would have preferred being able to just work on Potions for the rest of his life, maybe open an apothecary but Dumbledore had made him take the teaching position in exchange for helping Lily. However, it had amounted to nothing, and he was also there on Voldemort's orders to spy on Albus.
Maybe he would stop in for a moment at the Three Broomsticks to get a butterbeer or tea, something to warm him up as he patrolled the grounds. Before Severus could contemplate further about how he could afford to step into the inn for a hot drink, he stumbled as something ran into him and he looked around but there were no students near him. He knew it wasn't a ghost as the ghosts of Hogwarts tended to remain within the castle and anyway, had a ghost gone through him, he wouldn't have felt a solid mass much less felt a cold chill seeping through him as it passed. The solid invisible mass that hit him sent him stumbling back as he looked around, his ears hearing a gasp and then hurried footsteps running away from him now that he was paying attention. Snape followed the sound of footsteps on quick feet, flicking his wrist to release his wand from its holster before raising it and erected a magical barrier in front of him before casting a silent petrification spell. Severus heard the thud of a body hitting the ground and swept down on whoever it was, removing the magical barrier before slipping his wand back into his holster and reaching forward, grasped onto what turned out to be silky cloth. Feeling something in his hand, he ripped the cloak off to reveal Potter petrified and missing his glasses. "Potter!"
The warmth of the castle surrounded him as Harry levitated behind the greasy bat of the dungeons, the halls of Hogwarts passing by until they finally arrived at a stone gargoyle. Harry, even in his petrified state, recognized this as the Headmaster's office. "Cocoa Puffs," said Severus to the gargoyle who sprang to the side to reveal a spiral moving staircase which Severus climbed, Harry levitating back behind him and then the gargoyle slid once more into place as they rode it up to the Headmaster's office. Snape knocked on the door, having rifled through his pockets and discovering the map as well as Harry's wand and the stolen candy, the adolescent not believing his bad luck at being caught in Hogsmeade. What was Snape doing in Hogsmeade anyway? He should be sulking around the dungeons like the overgrown bat he was!
"Ah Severus," said Albus as he looked up from a book he was reading. "How may I..." His eyes slid over to Harry who was now in view of the Headmaster before glancing at Severus. "Severus, please release Harry."
"And have him run Headmaster? He tried to do so earlier."
"You won't run will you Harry?" But of course, Harry could not reply and Albus sighed. "Severus."
"Very well Headmaster but may I at least lock the door and put up wards to keep the brat here?"
"Yes Severus, you may."
With a thump, his body hit the floor as the levitation charm was canceled as Severus then erected wards and locked the door, the feeling of the wards settling around all three males and even the phoenix who sat on his perch, beady black eyes watching the entire scenario. Fawkes then released a soothing trill as Severus released Harry from the petrification spell and dumped the sweets and cloak on the Headmaster's desk before him. Albus looked from the pile of sweets to Harry and then back at Severus with a frown on his normally gentle face. "Severus, what is this? And Harry...Severus...please take a seat."
Both visitors sat down, and Severus began explaining the situation. "I was on patrol in Hogsmeade as is customary when students are at Hogsmeade for their visits," said Severus, ignoring the gasp of horror from Potter, "what with the Minister in the Three Broomsticks along with Madam Rosmerta, Filius and Minerva." Dumbledore nodded, his eyes glancing to Harry before going back to his potions professor. "I was patrolling the grounds of Hogsmeade and while debating stopping in at the Three Broomsticks to get a tea or butterbeer, I felt something solid run into me and heard a distinct gasp."
"Are you sure you heard a gasp Severus?"
"I'm positive Headmaster," said Severus. "Thankfully there were no little cretins running about nearby nor caroling adults making a nuisance of themselves."
"Now Severus, it is the Christmas holidays. You shouldn't fault the children for wanting a bit of good cheer, especially with things being so dire as they are."
"Hmmph," snorted Severus. "As I was saying Headmaster..."
"Yes, continue my boy."
Severus's mouth tightened but he did so. "Then I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps and pursued it, concerned it might be someone with nefarious motives or even Black for all I was aware and hurriedly threw up a magical barrier before casting a petrification spell at the target. There was a thump and when I reached down after reaching the petrified figure, grasped that cloak and it revealed Potter. I searched his pockets while keeping him under the spell and found a piece of spare parchment and the load of candy before bringing him back here, believing it prudent to get Potter back to the castle as quickly as possible."
"You did the right thing Severus," said Dumbledore, staring again at the pile of sweets before examining the piece of parchment. "What is this?"
"I'm not sure," admitted Severus. "I attempted to get it to reveal its secrets but all it did was insult me," he said, and as Dumbledore stared at the parchment he did indeed see writing on the front.
"‘Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business,'" read Dumbledore, causing Snape's mouth to tighten even further as the Headmaster continued. "‘Mr. Wormtail advises Professor Snape to go wash his greasy hair and soiled underwear, the slimeball,'" he read, falling silent as he read some other messages to himself. Setting the parchment down, Dumbledore began muttering some spells over the parchment only to find it didn't respond to him, but he did detect a charm on the parchment. "As Headmaster of Hogwarts, I command you to tell me what you are," said Dumbledore, feeling somewhat foolish yet also concerned about this piece of parchment and how Harry had gotten his hands on it.
"‘Mr. Prongs wonders how Professor Dumbledore can still be teaching at his age and advises him to retire. Mr. Padfoot agrees with Mr. Prongs and says he should take care not to meddle in things that don't concern him. Mr. Moony...'" He frowned down at the parchment and set it down. "Harry, I'm ordering you to tell me what you were doing in Hogsmeade when you were specifically told to remain in the castle for your own safety," said Albus.
"I wasn't in Hogsmeade," said Harry.
"Really? Then explain how these sweets were found in your possession, Mr. Potter. I saw you under that cloak of yours. Your head shouldn't be in Hogsmeade. No part of your body has any right to be in Hogsmeade. Are you just daft you stupid boy?!"
"Severus," said Dumbledore warningly and Severus fell silent. There was a tense silence that fell upon the three occupants within the room before Dumbledore frowned at Harry. "Harry, I'm giving you one chance to not lie to me again. What were you doing in Hogsmeade? It's dangerous for you, my boy."
"I wasn't in Hogsmeade," said Harry stubbornly.
"Then where were you?"
"In the Gryffindor common room."
"Can anyone confirm that?"
Harry said nothing and Albus sighed in disappointment. He then rose from his chair and grabbed a pinch of floo powder from a pot on the mantle of the fireplace before throwing it in and kneeling. As the flames turned green, he stuck his head in and shouted for Professor Lupin.
"Remus, I need you to come through at once to deal with a potential dark object," said Albus once Remus had appeared at his own fireplace.
"Of course, Headmaster. I'll step through right away."
"Thank you, Remus," said Dumbledore and got to his feet, moving back to his chair, and waving his wand to procure an extra chair for the Defense professor. and a few moments later, Professor Lupin stepped through. "Remus, please make yourself comfortable," said Dumbledore and Remus did so, nodding to Severus who frowned before walking around the desk and taking a seat in the chair provided.
"What can I do for you Headmaster and why are Severus and Harry here?"
"It seems Lupin that Potter's spawn decided to continue following in his father's footsteps and not taking the advice of the staff and Headmaster. I found him in Hogsmeade, hiding under his little cloak and apparently with sweets. Sweets obviously stolen from Honeydukes."
"Severus, you're letting your prejudices for James get in the way of being professional," said Lupin. Honestly, it was like they were in school all over again. Remus felt that same headache coming on whenever Sirus and James spoke about Severus and other Slytherins though Remus knew in hindsight he hadn't been the best role model for his friends. Remus still didn't know what he had done to deserve being Prefect but maybe Dumbledore had faith that he would put a stop to his friends' bullying or felt that Remus had earned it in some way. Remus had never asked, but he was perturbed and bothered by the fact that Snape's hatred for James was showing in Harry as well.
"It seems Severus is correct, and that Harry was indeed caught in Hogsmeade," said Dumbledore. "I hate to think anything bad of the boy..."
"Please, you let him get away with everything, just like you let Black and Potter with their little gang get away with bullying me at Hogwarts," said Severus with a snort, "and it's being allowed with Potter and his little friends Weasley and Granger."
"Well, you probably deserved to be bullied! You just don't like my dad!"
"Your dad was a swine and strutted around..."
"ENOUGH!" Harry and Severus fell silent, the teen looking at his lap as Severus frowned deeply but said nothing. Remus just sighed to himself, feeling like he was being caught in the middle. "It seems that Harry snuck out of the castle underneath his invisbility cloak. I thought he could be trusted with it when I gave it to him in his first year..."
"So that's how he's been sneaking around the castle these past two years? You gave him an invisibility cloak? Are you stupid Headmaster?! Why would you buy..."
"That cloak belonged to James," said Lupin. "I recognize it from my time at school. It's a Potter family heirloom, supposedly passed down through the Peverell family from which the Potters married into," he said.
Severus was practically fuming as he now discovered just how it was that the Marauders had managed to sneak around the castle and not get caught. "He's obviously too irresponsible to use it," said Severus.
"Yes, it seems you are right," said Dumbledore much to Harry's horror, the boy's face becoming pale.
"No! You can't take that from me! It was my dad's and Snape's just jealous!"
"What would I have to be jealous of Potter?"
"That my dad was more popular than you can ever hope to be," said Harry.
"That is enough Harry! You will treat Severus with the respect he deserves as your professor," said Dumbledore. "I am the one who gave you this cloak and as the headmaster, I can take this gift back and have it returned to the Potter vault. Remus, I brought you here because there's something potentially dark and it's surely your area of expertise. This is for your own good Harry."
"I'll help where I can headmaster," said Lupin.
"This piece of parchment appears to insult those who read it," said Dumbledore, "and it would not respond to myself either," he said, "instead insulting me."
Remus, for his part, recognized the map quickly. "It's probably a joke item designed to insult people who read it," said Lupin as he read over it. Unable to resist chuckling, he turned his head to look at Harry. "Where did you get this Harry?"
Harry was reluctant to admit that the twins had given him the map as he didn't want to get them into trouble. Still fuming over being caught by Snape as well as the headmaster taking his cloak from him, neither had any right to stop him from having fun in the adolescent's mind, he set his mouth into a thin line of his own and stubbornly refused to look at any of the adults in the room or answer any further questions. Silence once more permeated the room until Dumbledore spoke. "Did you steal these sweets from Hogsmeade? Do not lie to me again Harry."
"Yes," Harry reluctantly responded, panic rising through his body at the thought of losing his cloak which was the only thing he had from his dad. Dumbledore has no right to take my cloak from me.
"So, you admit you were in Hogsmeade then? Knowing that it would potentially put your life in danger if you were caught by Black or a Death Eater," said Dumbledore. "Not only that, but you also lied to me and to your other professors as well as stole from Honeydukes." Each word that came from the headmaster's mouth was short and clipped, the old man leaning back in his chair as he stared over his halfmoon spectacles at the boy. "I am disappointed in you Harry. Remus, do you know about this obvious dark magical object?"
Like Harry, Remus too was feeling panic but he was feeling panicked because it had not occurred to him that Filch still had the map. It had been confiscated sometime during their last year at Hogwarts by Filch, though thankfully they had James' old copy and Remus's, the latter of which had probably been destroyed in the destruction of Potter cottage. None of them had been able to successfully steal it back but by then they knew every inch of the castle and the surrounding grounds as well as some of the Forbidden Forest, even if the latter was not included on the map itself. It was with horror of his own that he realized how dangerous it could be if Black found this copy of the map and made his way into the castle to snatch the boy sitting beside him. "It's not a dark object Headmaster. We made it in our fifth year."
"I, Peter, James and Black," said Remus. "Sirius drew the layout of the school and grounds, and I made up the charms for it and cast them on the map with us pouring some of our conscious and souls into the map. It insults anyone who reads it. We used it to sneak around the school during our time here."
"A map was made of the school, and you didn't think to tell me beforehand when you were hired?" Dumbeldore questioned.
"No sir. I didn't think it was a problem and had forgotten about it until now. I don't know how Harry got it but rest assured Headmaster, I didn't give it to him."
"Why was this map created? How does it work?"
"During our second year. Peter, James and Black, instead of shunning me, offered to remain my friends and they worked on becoming animagi. Peter needed the most help, but he managed it in time, and they became animagi by our fifth year. It was to help me during my...time of the month," said Remus. "You tap it and say ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good' and to disguise the map you say ‘Mischief Manage.'"
Severus snorted. Only Potter could think of something stupid like that. But the dour man had to admit that it was an ingenious piece of work to have a map of the entire castle.
"James was talented at Transfiguration," mused Dumbledore though this was not meant to be a compliment however Harry looked up at the mention of his dad. "You said they managed this in their fifth year?"
"Yes. It took them three years to learn it," said Remus. "Those were some of the best times in my life but in our seventh year, we were cornered by Filch and he took the map from us. We were never able to steal it back. I suspect James' copy was destroyed that night of Halloween and this is Black's copy." Severus looked apocalyptic as he listened to all of this.
"I knew you were up to no good!"
"Oh, bugger off Snape," said Harry, forgetting who was in the room with him.
"Detention Mr. Potter," said Snape, "and fifteen points for insulting a professor." He was pleased to see that Dumbledore did not refute him or overturn this punishment though the boy certainly deserved a strap to learn some manners and not to put himself in danger. "Do you not realize that we were attempting to keep you safe from Black and that you could have been kidnapped during your rebellious jaunt outside of the castle? Where did you get this map you little thief?"
"I'm no thief!"
"You stole from Honeydukes and admitted it! That makes you a thief!"
"Harry, where did you get this map?"
"FredandGeorge," Harry mumbled under his breath.
"Excuse me? Speak up for I didn't hear you."
"I said...Fred and George showed it to me today when they caught me trying to sneak out of the castle and showed me a passage, I could use to get to Honeydukes. It's brilliant sir! It shows everything and everyone in the castle and the grounds all the time!"
"It's foolish," muttered Severus.
"Remus...you said your friends were animagi. What were they? This is important. Do not disappoint me as you have just done by holding this secret from me."
"James was a stag, Pettigrew a rat and Black was a dog resembling a Grimm," said Remus, feeling a low blow as the headmaster expressed disappointment in him. Dumbledore had given him so much and Remus strived to do whatever the headmaster asked, given it was because of the Headmaster that he had been able to go to school and get an education.
"You disappoint me Remus. I'm afraid I have no choice but to terminate your position."
"You can't! It's not his fault," Harry shouted.
"Be quiet Harry. You're in enough trouble as it is," said Dumbledore sharply. "Remus, since you failed to come forward with this information, I am afraid I simply cannot trust you in your position to carry out your duties safely to the students and your fellow staff members. Please leave the castle," said Dumbledore before he called for a house elf. "Popsy."
"Yes Master Dumbledore," said a house elf that appeared in the room, bowing to Dumbledore as it appeared.
"Throw Mr. Lupin's things from his office out at the gates of Hogwarts. He is no longer a professor here," said Dumbledore and the house elf bowed before vanishing with a pop. He then pointed his wand at the map and muttered a spell, setting the map on fire and watching as it burned to ashes before their very eyes. Remus stared in disbelief before getting to his feet and making his way from the Headmaster's office and towards the doors of the castle in shock, Dumbeldore unlocking the door so the former professor could leave. "It seems I shall have to find another professor for the post of defense," said Dumbledore.
"Indeed," said Severus. "What is to be done about Potter and the Weasley twins?"
"They shall be banned from Hogsmeade for the rest of the school year and lose fifty points each as well as a letter being written to their parents," said Dumbledore. "As for you Mister Potter, I am returning your cloak to the Potter vault but believe, since you seem to have no self-preservation for your own life, someone needs to watch over you and prohibit your friendship for the time being with Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger."
"Do not finish that sentence," said Dumbledore, his eyes sharp with anger. "Severus, I am entrusting Harry to you."
"You are the only one that can keep Harry safe from himself Severus and I trust you to keep him in line while he is here at Hogwarts."
"Very well. Shall I put the boy in my quarters or a bed in the Slytherin dorms?"
"I believe your quarters would be best Severus."
"Very well. I'll have a house elf prepare a room."
Dumbledore nodded and when Severus left, he locked the door again before sighing and getting up. "Normally I do not condone corporal punishment Harry, but it seems that you need a lesson in personal responsibility," said Dumbledore. "Please drop your trousers and bend over the desk there. Do not make me tell you twice," he said when he noticed Harry had paled and not done as he asked. Reluctantly, Harry got to his feet and did as the Headmaster said. Dumbledore summoned a switch and raised it above his head before bringing it down on Harry's cheeks, making the teen cry out in surprise. After twenty whacks on each cheek, Harry was sent out to the hallway and followed Snape down to the dungeons, his bum sore from the whipping, tears in his eyes from what the headmaster had done. After twenty whacks on each cheek, Harry was sent out to the hallway and followed Snape down to the dungeons, his bum sore from the whipping, tears in his eyes from what the headmaster had done. He had also been given a week's worth of detentions on top of those that he had already earned and was told Snape had authority to punish him as well if Harry put himself into danger or spoke to his friends at all, which made the teen furious.
The walk to the dungeons was done in silence, neither professor nor student speaking to each other. They passed the potions classroom and then finally arrived at a portrait where Snape whispered the password which then swung open. Harry was pushed inside, and Snape followed, the floor covered in surprisingly soft carpeting with a green and silver rug before the fireplace in the main sitting area. A small table and chairs were in one corner of the room and there was a door against the far wall in a shadowy corner. In the sitting area were a couch and couple of chairs while a short hallway extended down to their right. "Follow me Potter," said Severus as he led the teen down the short hallway. "This is the bathroom," he said, opening the first door on their left to reveal a large clawfoot tub, sink and toilet. He then closed the door and took a few steps. "That is a study and library," he pointed to a second door on their left, "and my room is at the end of the hall. Your room is here. You will remain here and are expected back at nine thirty in the evening, no later than that or there will be consequences. Now unpack your things and find something in your room to do."